As I’ve still been trying to recognize and eliminate my own complaining, I’ve been struck by how very much I complain inside my head, without ever saying the words.
I constantly struggle to take every thought captive. It’s no wonder that it’s so tough to control my outward expressions of complaint. Jesus said that’s how it works.
Listen to Jesus’ words. Don’t simply skim over the passage, really listen. Just a warning though, this might hurt a bit.
Either make the tree good and it’s fruit good, or make the tree bad and it’s fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” (Matthew 12:33-35)
A bad tree? Me? That seems a little harsh.
How about a brood of vipers? I know I’m not that bad. At least that’s what I’d like to think.
But if my complaining is coming from the abundance of my heart, what does that say about the condition of my heart?
When I allow myself to think thoughts of complaint about a situation, I’m building up my evil treasure. When I overlook someone else’s faults on the outside but harbor bitterness on the inside, I’m storing evil treasure. When I make sarcastic comments or criticisms in my head, I am collecting evil treasure.
Thankfully, Jesus died to give me freedom from those sins, too. I don’t have to hold onto that bad treasure.
As I praise God for bringing trials into my life, I am building up good treasure. When I choose to love someone who has failed or frustrated me, I am storing good treasure. When I resist the temptation to think unkind thoughts toward others, I’m collecting good treasure.
It doesn’t matter if my complaining is the obvious-can’t-miss-it kind, the kind I try to sneak in the back door, or the kind that’s little more than a sound or tone of voice. It all starts with my sinful heart. And it all ends with grace. Repentance and resistance through grace.
When the complaining thoughts pop up, I have to fight against them. I have to resist. Like the Psalmist, I need to pray:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
I need to pray this daily….hourly….sometimes even minute-by-minute. I must stop these thoughts before they become the treasure of my heart and the words of my mouth. And I must make His Word the treasure of my heart so my words are a reflection of Him and acceptable to Him. Only by God’s grace.
This post has been updated and republished from the archives.